Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at Chabad House at Rutgers University on August 25, 2015 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Shmuley Boteach Nears Trump Endorsement

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach called Donald Trump “a phenomenal friend” to Israel, dismissing the presumptive Republican nominee’s previous claims of neutrality in peace negotiations with Palestinians as irrelevant.

The outspoken celebrity rabbi said conflicting statements on the Jewish state made by Trump should be ignored and that the unequivocal support of Israel that the candidate expressed at his address at AIPAC’s policy conference in March should be taken as representative of his views.

“I think the definitive opinion he’s expressed is his speech before AIPAC — he expressed no form of neutrality whatsoever,” Boteach told the Forward.

Prior his speech at the pro-Israel group’s conference, Trump said he would be neutral when arbitrating between Israelis and Palestinians. He also implied he expects Israel to pay back military aid it has received from the U.S.

Boteach cited conversations with Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who Boteach extolled as a “Kiddush Hashem” (a sanctification of God’s name), as having convinced him of Trump’s views on the Jewish state. Kushner, Boteach said, “is rock solid on Israel,” and serves as an advisor to Trump.

Boteach was speaking hours before a “Jewish Values” award gala he organizes was set to begin, whose guests include Sheldon Adelson, a major contributor to Republican candidates. Adelson was seen as signaling support for Trump in March through positive coverage of the candidate in Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper he controls and funds.

The prominent rabbi conceded that he does not agree with Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country, but emphasized that on the two most important issues for him — national security and Israel — the real estate mogul was the strongest candidate.

Boteach also said Trump should not be held accountable for anti-Semitic and racist supporters. The real estate mogul has faced criticism for not dealing with bigotry among some of his supporters, including hateful statements and call to violence against Jews.

“Every candidate is going to attract unsavory characters — that’s what happens in politics,” Boteach said, “I’m not going to hold him accountable for racist supporters.”

After failing to initially condemn a Wednesday endorsement by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Trump disavowed the white supremacist Thursday.

Author

Josefin Dolsten

Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at dolsten@forward.com and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Shmuley Boteach Nears Trump Endorsement

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close